This may be some of the best and funniest coverage from the Time 100 — God bless Rick Stengel for loosing Joel Stein on the red carpet walkers to ping the highly-decorated, massively influential nominees with the questions that matter. We're actually not kidding — he gets some good news nuggets out of this. Like, weren't you wondering whose faces were covered up by the mailing label on the Time 100 cover? Well, now we know that Judd Apatow is one of them. (Nice parry on that one, Stengel.) And, Brian Williams carries Purell with him. Stein knew that, I guess because they are kindred spirits in germophobia. (Joel, you're good, but I bet BriWi shakes more hands.) We also learn that Presidents Bush and Clinton also carry Purell (or, presumably, have a nearby aide carry Purell). Does Obama carry Purell, and if so is that because he can't related to the unwashed hands of the unwashed masses? We don't know if John McCain carries Purell, but we do know that he doesn't know much about baseball.
Speaking of baseball, Stein's back-and-forth with George Mitchell about whether he (Mitchell) thought he (Stein) was on steroids was a great example of why Stein is so damn good doing this: He asks great, fun questions that give the respondent something to work with. Everyone on this video appears likable and funny (though who knows what's on the outtakes). And his questions got good answers: Purell aside, it was great to see honoree Nancy Brinker, Susan G. Komen foundation founder (looking stunning in red), saying that the most influential thing she'd done that day was walk a breast cancer patient through her treatment — a good way of bringing it back to the reason these people get on the list in the first place. (Though I would have liked to have seen more of those kinds of honorees - Time people! Get on it and make that outtakes vid!) But also, Stengel gets credit for setting Stein loose on the carpet and then letting him do his thing. Saying to Rupe "Will you hire me? This Time Inc. ship is going down fast," asking the Guitar Hero guys if they get a kickback from pot dealers, getting Fred Armisen to make a plea for subscribers...and then specifying that they should be "under eighty" — that's good, sharp non-corporate sanctioned commentary, and it makes Time look good to have it.
Also, this is proof that we didn't steal our bearded-nominee joke from him. Though, we would have.
We have videos, too! They're here, with very similar production values.
[Disclosure: Both of us know and like Joel from outside the media world, but that just means we've seen his quit wit in action on many other occasions.]